NEARLY a million pounds worth of free work has been carried out by offenders on schemes across North Yorkshire and York in the past year.

Community payback is work done by offenders as part of their community sentence so they can give something back to society for the crimes they’ve committed.

Altogether over 125,000 hours of unpaid work has been completed on projects across the region through the York and North Yorkshire Probation Trust.

The projects range from single placements with small voluntary organisations to large groups doing conservation work and clearing up eyesores, concentrating on work that might not otherwise be done.

More than 900 offenders were involved in Community Payback in the area last year, working on 150 different projects. One of the major schemes to benefit has been in Northallerton where offenders built a garden trail for adults with disabilities at Northdale, supported by Mayor Jack Dobson’s appeal.

Other schemes included working with Scarborough in Bloom and the Independent Domestic Abuse Service in York as well as painting street benches and chairs in Northallerton.

Mike Ryan, director for York and North Yorkshire Probation Trust, said community payback teams have worked with offenders to carry out their sentences on challenging projects which have been highly beneficial to the community.

“Over the last year our Community Payback teams have once again demonstrated resilience, commitment and professional skills in managing offenders in the community. The variety of projects they undertake is vast and varied - from supporting local charity shops, to helping schools, and churches and local community groups across the county."